My life was feeling chaotic and stressful. I’m 22 and as well as working for Walmart, I’m studying for an architecture degree and paying for my tuition. I’m also doing an internship with an architecture firm. I didn’t have enough time for myself. In December, I downloaded the Thrive app because I wanted to lower my stress, eat better, and improve my time management. I’m an introvert and I was looking for more connection, too.

I began by creating a schedule for myself in a sketchbook.

I plan my week ahead, and that helps me focus on the tasks I’ve set for myself, instead of trying to figure out what needs to be done all the time. My work and high priority assignments for my degree are the first things I schedule. I’ve learned that tasks are a lot easier for me in the morning when my mind is fresh and alert, and there aren’t a lot of distractions.

Making sure I carve out time to work out helps lower my stress.

I usually go to the gym first thing in the morning, before anything else. It wakes me up and sets me up to tackle the day’s activities in a positive way. The gym is a place for me to clear my head and let go of all my problems. I’ve started tracking my workouts, which helps me see small victories as I progress and get stronger. For motivation, I listen to EDM (electronic dance music). I work out with a friend and we encourage and push each other to do our best.

Instead of grabbing fast food, I’m planning my meals.

I’ll make salmon with veggies or have a chicken wrap. Once I learned to food prep and have a plan for what I’m going to eat for a few days, I stopped spending so much time worrying about cooking and having healthy meals. 

Sleep is a big priority, because my life is so busy.

Microsteps are helping me, like having a regular bedtime. I shower in the evening and put my phone away. I’m getting seven hours of sleep a night, and I feel recharged in the morning. 

Now that I’m resting more, I’ve noticed I’m more creative.

I love art, and I’m making sure I have time to draw and paint every week. It allows my mind to wander and explore, and I find it very relaxing. I’ll draw mythical creatures like dragons and any architectural ideas I have in my head.

I’m hanging out with friends and coworkers and making more connections.

We’ll go to the gym or play Topgolf. I’m spending time with my older coworkers and learning about life from them. I enjoy hearing about their experiences, which range from having kids to buying a house, and the struggles they’ve overcome. They give me a lot of guidance about  different opportunities that life has to offer and they help me see things in a different way.

The best thing about the Thrive Challenge is that I’ve learned to motivate myself.

I’m holding myself accountable and managing my time well. I’m trusting my intuition and I know I can make good decisions for myself. Thrive has helped me create a routine that I enjoy. I’m proud of where I am in my life and I’m excited about my future.

— Brandon Bowman, Distribution Center #7055, Gas City, IN; $5K Winner